Staffing concern at dementia unit

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A County Armagh woman whose mum suffers from dementia has claimed staffing levels at the Gillis Unit is ‘ridiculous’.

The woman said she is astounded that there is not a 24-hour doctor service on this specialist site at St Luke’s Hospital in Armagh.

And she added that until she put up a Facebook post complaining about her mother’s care, the unit had not provide her with one-to-one care though this had been recommended.

Indeed the Facebook post was shared almost 1,000 times with almost 200 comments by people who had been affected by the story.

The young woman said that since that post she has been contacted by the families of other patients who are just as concerned about their own relative’s care and the lack of nursing staff at the Gillis Memory Unit.

Her mother has been a patient in the Gillis Unit since December and recently had a seizure when the only doctor on the ward has was off on annual leave.

“Mum’s seizure lasted four minutes. She had no pulse! Luckily a rapid response ambulance was nearby and was able to get there within a few minutes to eventually save mums life!

“A ward like this should have a doctor present at all times especially with the amount of patients there,” she said.

She added that she was concerned at the lack of nurses on the ward.

While prior to her Facebook post regarding her mum’s care, she felt her mother was not receiving one-to-one care.

However, since the Facebook post, she said this had changed. And although her mum is receiving this type of care, now her daughter feels that other patients are missing out on care.

“From what I could see there were about seven staff, four to five of which are nurses.

“I know that there are at least three patients (including mum) who are supposed to be on one-to-one care, meaning three out of five nurses are “supposed” to be occupied looking after those three patients at all times,” said the daughter.

“That leaves two nurses to look after the other 22-25 patients with severe dementia. Is this enough? Is it what!

“It takes two people to toilet each patient. So how many does that leave? Something needs done!” she said.

She added that she wanted the Health Minister to visit her mother and the unit to see exactly what the situation is.

“It is ridiculous, I don’t know how they are coping,” said the young woman.

“Since I put up the post about my mum’s care, she has been getting one-to-one care but I would like to highlight the absence of a 24-hour doctor service and the lack of nursing staff at the unit.”

A Southern Trust spokesperson said: “Staffing levels in the Gillis Memory Unit in Armagh are appropriate for the complex needs of patients being cared for within this specialist facility.

“We are happy to talk to anybody who has concerns about any of our services.”